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Stock Upgrades: Barbarians Back Off Bill Gates at Microsoft Corporation

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Wall Street ratings agencies set the tone for today's stock market.

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The Dow (^DJI) dropped for a third straight day after Sandra turned into Cassandra. Comments from the Fed's Ms. Pianalto indicating that the end of easy money is almost at hand sent stocks slumping. Bank of America (BAC) was among blue chips to end under water after being hit with a lawsuit from its activities five years ago. As the Black Eyed Peas opined in Boom Boom Pow, "I'm so 2008." Fergie and Co. went on to complain "You so 2000 and late" but better late than never, and AOL Inc. (AOL) advanced 1.41% after eventually realizing its ill-fated merger with Time Warner (TWX) 10 days into the millennium was so not worth it.

Another hip-hop artist once lamented that it's hard out there for a pimp, and the ex-head of the IMF can today attest how true that is. Mind you, it ain't exactly a bed of roses for Eliot Spitzer's madam, either. Which was why his rival for New York City comptroller Kristin Davis must resort to selling prescription drugs. Alas, her admirable efforts failed to assist an unloved CVS Caremark (CVS), America's largest (legal) provider of such products. Its shares took their two-day tumble to more than 4%. And on the eve of Dustin Hoffman's birthday, C.H. Robinson (CHRW) definitely wasn't trying to seduce him in falling 5.49%.

Today's corporate earnings announcements are expected to include Annie's (BNNY), Beam Inc. (BEAM), Commerzbank (CRZBY), Dean Foods (DF), Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY), Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF), Nestlé (NSRGY), Noodles & Co (NDLS), Nvidia (NVDA), Priceline.com (PCLN), Rio Tinto (RIO), and T-Mobile (TMUS).

Agrium (AGU): The fertilizer firm, which plunged along with industry peers last week, is now Sector Perform from Underperform at National Bank Financial.

Groupon (GRPN): The daily deals website, surging after announcing Q2 earnings, gets upgraded to Neutral from Sell at UBS.

Lowe's (LOW): JPMorgan raises the home improvement retailer to Overweight from Equal Weight with a $52 target price amid greater consistency and improved execution.

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): The tech name endured an utterly awful July but it has made a better start to August. Yesterday's top Dow (^DJI) stock is showing further strength before the bell on an Overweight-from-Equal Weight increase at Evercore. An investor day slated for September 9 could provide a boost, the broker believes, and its price objective increases by $3 to $38.

Panera Bread (PNRA): Shares get boosted to Buy from Hold with Wunderlich, which takes its target price up by $12 to $212. Improving sales and operating trends are cited.

Quad/Graphics (QUAD): Shares get upgraded to Sector Perform from Underperform at RBC Capital.

RealD (RLD): Brokerage boutique B. Riley & Co. raises RLD to Buy from Neutral.

SunEdison (SUNE): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the small cap company to Buy from Neutral.

Sun Life (SLF): Shares are upgraded to Outperform from Perform by BMO Capital Markets.

Sunoco Logistics (SXL): The stock is upgraded to Accumulate at Tudor Pickering.

Tata Motors (TTM): TTM is taken to Buy from Neutral at Nomura.

Total (TOT): Morgan Stanley takes the European oil stock to Overweight from Equal-Weight.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Nike Inc Jumps to It and Stock Downgrades: Today's Takedown of Tesla Motors Inc Looks Like Road Kill.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

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